Monday, July 30, 2012

Canada - Richard Ford

I've been a fan of Richard Ford's work since the late 1980s.  I was pleased when he won the Pulitzer for Independence Day.  I enjoy the Frank Bascombe trilogy, but the books that really resonate with me and seem to showcase Ford's talent completely are the ones where people are driving into disaster after making calculated, measured decisions that are just plain terrible, like Rock Springs, his first collection of short stories and Wildlife, a short novel in which a teenage boy's parents go off the skids.  Ford has a detached but stringently observant narrative style that goes so well with his on-the-edge characters.  When he takes it to civilization, it's not as stark and effective.

I was so happy to see that Ford's latest novel, Canada, seems to revisit many of the same themes as Wildlife: Great Falls, Montana, wayward parents, teenaged boy, although this time, the boy has a twin sister and the parents are much more than wayward; they are bank robbers.  Canada, particularly Saskatchewan, figures into the plot, but there's no way I'm giving out any spoilers.  For some readers, Canada will seem a little slow-moving, but it's worth it.  The book builds like a huge thunderhead and readers are helplessly swept into the storm, much like the 15-year-old narrator.  If this book had a soundtrack, it would feature dark and moody songs by Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, and of course, Neil Young.

I won't be surprised if Richard Ford gets a second Pulitzer for Canada.

7 comments:

John Mutford said...

Well, as it's called Canada, perhaps Neil Young would be more fitting than Cash or Springsteen ;)

Bybee said...

John,
I almost included Neil Young, then something stopped me. I meant to.

Sam Sattler said...

Canada is unforgettable...still love that opening and think of it each time I start a new book since reading Canada. Others suffer in comparison to Ford's first couple of sentences.

bkclubcare said...

Hmmm, will check it out. Sounds fantastic.

Ryan said...

As a Canadian, I would expect nothing less than a slow moving narrative in a novel called Canada. I'm going to have to get this.

Sue F. said...

I keep reading about this book and wondering about it...sounds like I need to read it! Thanks for the review!

Susan said...

I guess I should read it, he's not an author I'm drawn to, though I do keep hearing about it over here. It is about my country, even if it's Saskatchewan! lol